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Steelers release WR Allen Robinson, CB Patrick Peterson while Russell Wilson speculation mounts

The Pittsburgh Steelers cut loose two of their higher-priced veterans Friday, which also happened to be the day pending free agent quarterback Russell Wilson was in town.

The team released wide receiver Allen Robinson and cornerback Patrick Peterson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Field Yates, moves that will free up about $17 million in salary cap space.

Peterson had been playing on a two-year, $14 million contract he signed last offseason, which will save the Steelers $6.85 million and leave them with $2.925 million in dead money, via OverTheCap. Robinson was on a heavily backloaded two-year, $15 million deal; Pittsburgh will save $10 million in cap space against $1.92 million in dead money.

Both players are former former Pro Bowlers, but are well-removed from their primes at this point.

The Steelers now have around $28 million cap space for the 2024 season, which might be enough money to help address the sport's most expensive position.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - NOVEMBER 19: Patrick Peterson #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
Patrick Peterson (pictured) and Allen Robinson are out in Pittsburgh. Now who is coming in? (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images) (Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh hasn't outright said it wants a new quarterback, but its current options don't inspire confidence if the goal is to mount a playoff run. Kenny Pickett was the former heir apparent, but has struggled with both health and effectiveness. Mason Rudolph has had four years to show he's more than a backup and hasn't done so. Mitch Trubisky has already signed with the Bills.

So that's why the Steelers brought Wilson in for a visit Friday amid reports the team was interested in him. The former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion is set to become a free agent when the new league year begins later this month and has permission to speak with potential suitors.

The move will leave the Broncos with a record $85 million in dead cap money, but that wouldn't be the Steelers' problem. Wilson's Denver tenure didn't work out well, but players have bounced back from worse situations. The bigger question is if Pittsburgh represents a significant improvement after seven years without a playoff win.